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arrest

Police arrest British visitor following drug find

 
KINGSTON, Jamaica, Feb. 16, CMC –A British woman is scheduled to appear in court in the second city of Montego Bay next week Monday after she was arrested by the police late Wednesday at the Sangster International Airport.

arrestThe police report that the 22-year-old woman from Birmingham, England was held she was found with cocaine and marijuana, as she was about to check in on a flight to Frankfurt Germany.

The police say they found the drugs in tins that were wrapped in foil paper and transparent plastic bags.

Two of the 40 tins were opened and one contained cocaine weighing 34 pounds and the other with six pounds of ganja.

She is facing six counts of breaching the Dangerous Drugs Act.

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US Caribbean American Congresswoman tables legislation to protect immigrants

US Caribbean American Congresswoman tables legislation to protect immigrants

By Nelson A. King

WASHINGTON, Feb 17, CMC- Caribbean American Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke has tabled a bill in the United States House of Representatives aimed at protecting undocumented Caribbean and other immigrants.

Just days into his presidency, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order stating that he would cut off funding to cities that do not cooperate with US federal immigration officials.

Yvette D. Clarke

Trump’s January 24 executive order targets what are known as sanctuary cities and counties, which generally do not comply with federal requests to detain undocumented immigrants who have been arrested on charges unrelated to their immigration status and turn them over to the federal authorities for possible deportation, according to the New York Times.

Clarke’s “Protect Our Sanctuary Cities Act” is intended to end Trump’s executive restrictions on sanctuary cities and prohibit the expenditure of funds to enforce these provisions.

In addition, the measure would require the US Department of Homeland Security to present a report to Congress within 30 days explaining how the agency could build trust with immigrant communities.

“During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump repeatedly threatened to punish New York City and other communities that want to protect immigrants and their families. His executive order on immigration, by denying counter-terrorism funds to sanctuary cities, attempts to enforce that pledge with a threat,” Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, who represents the 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn, New York, told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) after introducing the bill on Thursday

“We are a sanctuary city because all people, regardless of their immigration status, should have the ability to access critical services, such as the protection of police and firefighters and the ability to send their children to school,” she added.

Without sanctuary in New York City, undocumented immigrants are forced to live with the fear that any contact with the government – even a call to the local police precinct to report a crime – could result in deportation.

“Nobody in New York City should have to live in fear of Donald Trump. As a result, this executive order undermines the safety of our entire community. We should build bridges, not walls, between Americans. I urge my colleagues to join me in resisting Donald Trump’s cynical efforts to divide our nation.”

Immediately after Trump signed the executive order on January 24, the mayors of large and small American cities reacted with outrage.

On January 25, Trump signed an executive order “vastly expanding who is considered a priority for deportation,” the New York Times said.

This has prompted further outrage from Caribbean American legislators in New York City, who have called for a very strong stance against the new president’s immigration policy.

Last Thursday, a United States federal appeals panel unanimously rejected Trump’s bid to reinstate his ban on travel into the US from seven Muslim countries, stating that the government showed that “no evidence” that anyone from the seven nations — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — had committed terrorist acts in the United States.

Clarke had condemned Trump’s travel ban, warning that it would eventually affect the Caribbean.

Amid increased anxiety and apprehension in the Caribbean community in the United States, the head of the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the department that oversees the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, acknowledged that ICE has launched a series of targeted enforcement operations aimed at deporting Caribbean and other immigrants.

“These operations targeted public safety threats, such as convicted criminal aliens [immigrants] and gang members, aswell as individuals who have violated our nation’s immigration laws, including those who illegally re-entered the country after being removed and immigration fugitives ordered removed by federal immigration judges,” said Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly in a statement earlier this week.

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The firefall at Yosemite National Park in California is a waterfall in disguise

Every February a rare phenomenon makes Horsetail Fall glow like fire.

By Laura Geggel, Senior Writer | February 15, 2017 

 Partner Series

 

The firefall at Yosemite National Park in California is a waterfall in disguise.
Credit: Peggy Sells/Shutterstock

It may look like a ribbon of cascading lava, but a so-called “firefall” in Yosemite National Park is actually a regular waterfall illuminated by the bright light of the setting sun.

Almost every mid-to late-February, Yosemite’s Horsetail Fall — a seasonal waterfall that flows when the snowpack melts in the winter and early spring — glows a bright and fiery orange. [Gallery: Most Famous Waterfalls in the US]

However, the firefall happens only under the right conditions. For starters, the sky needs to be clear. In addition, the sun needs to set at the right angle in the western sky; this creates the illusion that the waterfall is burning, Live Science reported previously.

“Even some haze or minor cloudiness can greatly diminish or eliminate the effect,” the National Park Service wrote on its website.

The sight, which now attracts thousands of people annually, is one to behold. But it’s short-lived, happening for only about 10 minutes each day, Live Science reported.

Yosemite visitors hoping to catch an eyeful of the firefall are in for a treat this year, officials said.

“The waterfall is bigger than it has been in a long time due to all the rain and snow we have received,” National Park Service spokesman Scott Gediman told CNN.

Many people have taken to social media to share photos of the astounding firefall. The U.S. Department of the Interior tweeted, “Every February, a rare phenomenon makes Horsetail Fall @Yosemitenps glow like fire. Pic from Saturday by Ray Lee #California #firefall.”

Horsetail Fall flows over the eastern edge of El Capitan in Yosemite Valley. The firefall is best seen from the El Capitan picnic area, located west of Yosemite Valley Lodge and east of El Capitan, National Park Service officials reported.

Original article on Live Science.

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Argyle Airport SVD

St. Vincent and the Grenadines opens new multi-million dollar international airport

By Kenton X. Chance

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Feb 14, CMC – St. Vincent and the Grenadines Argyle International Airport was officially opened Monday evening with a flag raising ceremony in which Prime Minister Dr.  Ralph Gonsalves said that the facility is “a symbol, it is a metaphor of what is possible in us.

“Do not ever allow any people, any nation to impose on us limitations to our imagination,” he told the large crowd that turned out to the opening of the EC$700 million (One EC dollar =US$0.37 cents) facility, six years behind schedule.

“Only we, as a self-governing people under God, with our own individual sense of being; only we must impose limitations on ourselves. Any other notion is a colonial one, and it is debilitating and it will hold us back,” said Gonsalves, who in 2005 announced his administration’s plan to build an international airport at Argyle, on the eastern side of the island.

Gonsalves at agyle

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves

“Whatever we set our minds to achieve, with patience and calm, we can achieve, as we have seen it here. This is a bridge to the world. And this plan didn’t just come from us. It is a combination of human intelligence and divine inspiration,” Gonsalves said and sang the chorus “I’m building a Bridge”.

Monday’s flag raising was one of two events to mark the opening of the airport, which begins operations later on Tuesday with scheduled flights by intra-regional carriers, LIAT and Grenadine Air Alliance.

A number of international chartered flights from North America and Cuba are also scheduled to land on Tuesday at the airport, which has contributed EC$400 million to the EC$1.6 billion national debt.

The airport has a runway that is 9,000 feet long and 150 feet wide. The terminal building has been designed to process 1.5 million passengers annually and 800 persons an hour at peak.

Gonsalves, who will also address Tuesday’s ceremony, said “today was supposed to be a very simple function and look at the thousands who are here.

“ (Tuesday) I believe we are going to see the largest crowd ever assembled at one place in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. And we are going to have a good time. We are going to have a good time because we have been blessed,” he said.

In his address, Gonsalves reiterated that the events on Monday and Tuesday are national ones.

“This is a not a party, political event; neither the one tomorrow (Tuesday). There is enough time, which we have spent on those arguments and we may well spend them on the arguments in the future, but today, now, and tomorrow (Tuesday), with our guests in our midst, I want to ensure that we have a national event, worthy of the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” Gonsalves said.

“It is inevitable, in the nature of competitive politics, that this or that matter may be said; that something may creep in. But, as prime minister of the country, I want to reaffirm, yet again, that this is a national event,” Gonsalves said, using the event to thank the nations and institutions that contributed to the successful completion of the airport.

He thanked the CARICOM Development Fund, which, of its own resources and through resources from Turkey, contributed to the airport and thanked also the president and the government and the people of Taiwan, which donated the terminal building.

Friday at agyle

Opposition Leader Goodwin Friday at Monday’s ceremonial opening

He also recognised “very specially”, three other major partners, namely Venezuela, Cuba and Trinidad and Tobago, which will be featured during Tuesday’s celebratory rally.

President of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro is slated to attend and speak at the event as well as Cuban Vice-President, Salvador Mesa.

Gonsalves paid a special tribute to the memory of his “dear friend and brother”, the late prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Patrick Manning, whose widow, Hazel will speak during Tuesday’s rally.

Gonsalves also used the ceremony to recognise other representatives of countries that have assisted with the airport, namely, Austria, Mexico, Turkey, Libya, Georgia, and Iran.

“We have had contributions from countries; some of them do not have diplomatic relations with one another. And part of the creativity and skill of the government was to bring all of these countries together to assist the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”

Gonsalves also thanked the governments of Britain, Canada, and the United States of America, whose respective export credit guarantee systems assisted “with certain items of equipment which we purchased, but, because of the guarantee systems we got them on better interest terms”.

Opposition Leader, Godwin Friday, speaking to the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) said the event had the pomp and ceremony that he expected.

“And I hope that the airport turns out to be what we expect as well.”

Friday did not give a clear answer as to whether opposition lawmakers would attend Tuesday’s event, saying “we will see. We will take it one day at a time.”

He said that decision would be informed by “what the nature of the exercise is.

“I think right now what we want to do is to show that commitment to people that this is a national project and whatever the criticisms are, we, in the opposition, we have to raise questions about things that we see in major projects or in government policy that raise concern.

“And if we do that, that doesn’t mean that we are rejecting entirely or we are unpatriotic, as some people might say. We are doing our job. When the project is completed, we hope that, based on the input we have given, that it becomes a better project.”

Friday said opposition lawmakers were at the event to show that they want the project to succeed.

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court rul

Venezuelan nationals on money laundering charges

CASTRIES, St. Lucia, Feb 14, CMC – two men, including a Venezuelan national, appeared in court here Tuesday charged with money laundering after police said they had seized over a million dollars (One EC dollar =US$0,37 cents) last week.

court rulVenezuelan Antonio Alcantara was remanded into custody while St. Lucian Anthony Jaye, was relased on EC$18,000 bail. He was also ordered to report to the police three times a week and surrender his travel documents.

The court heard that the police had seized US$395,000 from a car in which the two men were travelling after intercepting the vehicle near the Dennery bypass, east of here.

Meanwhile, another Venezuelan national,  Ricardo Jose Flores Montana, has been slapped with money laundering charges  after the police executed a search warrant on the home, north of here on February 10 and seized Euro10,000 (One Euro=US$1.29 cents) and US$131,720.

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Bermuda parli

House approves airport project after marathon debate

By Ivan Clifford

HAMILTON, Bermuda, Feb 11, CMC  — The opposition Progressive Labour Party (PLP) has urged the public to flood senators with their concerns after the House of Assembly early on Saturday approved legislation paving the way for government’s controversial airport redevelopment project,

Despite vociferous opposition from the PLP, after almost 14 hours of debate,  the Airport Authority Act 2017, was passed by 18 votes to 16.

MPs voted along party lines with independent MP Shawn Crockwell, a former One Bermuda Alliance (OBA) Tourism and Transport Minister, supporting the bill.

Legislators went on to consider a second piece of legislation, the Airport Redevelopment Concession Act 2017, which was also approved early Saturday morning.

Bermuda parli

Parliament gives green light to airport bill

An expected protest outside the House of Assembly building against the airport plan failed to materialise on Friday morning.

The ruling OBA  announced in late 2014 it had agreed a 30-year public-private partnership (PPP) deal with the Canadian government through Canadian Commercial Corporation and Aecon, the Canadian contractor, to build a new airport terminal with a then estimated price tag of US$250 million.

The two political parties have been engaged in a bitter wrangle over its pros and cons ever since.

The OBA has repeatedly said its PPP deal with Aecon will give the island a desperately needed new airport without adding to its debt, while the PLP has aggressively attacked the move as privatisation, saying it will see airport revenues disappear overseas, and touting renovations as an alternative.

At the time, Finance Minister Bob Richards said Bermuda needed a new terminal — the current one leaks during storms — at the L.F. Wade International Airport but could not afford one because of the island’s unhealthy financial position, hence the decision to go for the PPP deal.

Opposition Leader David Burt said in a statement on Saturday “we are disappointed, yet not surprised, that the OBA government acted against the best interests of Bermudians by voting to privatise our airport for 30 years.

“This deal will send $2.4 billion of revenue to a Canadian company, while Bermudian taxpayers are burdened with a $586 million bill. This deal has been marked with questions and controversy from the very start.

“The Senate now has a chance to weigh in and vote against the OBA’s airport privatisation bill that will weaken the country’s finances,” Burt said, adding “we urge all Bermudians opposed to the transfer of $2.4 billion in tax revenue to a Canadian company to contact senators to encourage them to bring a pause to the privatisation of our airport.”

The heated debate in the House came after Bermuda Industrial Union President Chris Furbert had opted to send union members back to work when only 150 to 200 showed up on Friday morning at Union Square.

Disappointed by the turnout, Furbert declared that it was impossible to ask “the minority to carry the majority forward”.

On December 2, more than 1,000 demonstrators prevented legislators from entering the House of Assembly to debate the airport plan and police in riot gear used pepper spray in a bid to disperse the crowd. House Speaker Randy Horton adjourned proceedings until this month.

Finance Minister Richards told the House on Friday that the airport project would cost $302 million and take 40 months to complete.

He said Bermudians and local firms would be given priority when it came to jobs created by the project.

“More information, over 1,000 pages, has been disclosed to the public in this project than any other project in the history of Bermuda,” he said.

Pointing to the findings of an independent panel, which this week described the deal as “commercially sound”, Richards concluded: “This transaction represents the best way forward given the atrocious hand left to us by the former government.”

The OBA inherited a national debt of $1.4 billion after it ousted the PLP in the December 2012 general election. The debt has grown to $2.4 billion.

An opinion poll commissioned by the Royal Gazette newspaper, and published on Friday, showed that almost two-thirds of Bermuda voters approved the airport plan.

The 11-member Upper House — made up of five senators from the OBA, three from the PLP and three independent members — is due to meet again on Monday  but is unlikely to discuss the airport plan because it has a raft of other legislation to deal with after being put on hold following the House disruption in early December.

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Skerrit at forum

PM urges private sector to get on board CBI programme

ROSEAU, Dominica, Feb 10, CMC – The Dominica government Friday urged the private sector to get more involved in the controversial Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) describing it as a “winner” in the regional push to attract foreign direct investments (FDI).

Dominica is one of several Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries that has a CBI programme providing citizenship to foreign investors in return for a significant investment in the socio-economic development of the island.

Skerrit at forum

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit addressing private sector forum

The other countries with such a programme include Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, St. Lucia and St. Kitts-Nevis.

But in recent weeks the CBI here has come under close scrutiny leading to the main opposition United Workers Party (UWP) and the smaller Dominica Freedom Party (DFP) staging a protest march calling for Skerrit’s resignation and that of his entire Cabinet.

“We have created a product that is internationally competitive. A winner and a leader in the regional push to attract foreign and direct investment and stimulate job creation,” Skerrit told a private sector forum here.

“Moreover, unlike that which obtained in the banana industry, the CBI is a product which is owned by us, is marketed by us and from which the direct benefits go into our treasury and our economy”.

He said it is in the interest of the private sector “to do all that is possible to ensure that the CBI succeeds,” noting that its success “is a guarantor of success of the private sector”.

He said currently there is a heavy focus on hotel construction under the CBI with projects planned to come on stream this year “should result in a dramatic increase in five star quality rooms within the next two to three years.

“These new investments will stimulate demand in the economy and support expansion of the private enterprises as a supply chain to the sector grows and diversifies.”

He said that his administration has already approved financing to be loaned to a local investor to support the purchase of the Dominica Coconut product (DCP) plant from Colgate Palmolive for the resuming the manufacture of soap products here.

“I am sure all Dominicans would be happy to witness the re-commencement of the production of soaps and other products at this facility”.

In November 2015, the Dominica government said it had submitted a proposal to take over the local operations of Colgate-Palmolive, following the company’s decided to close its doors, putting an estimated 94 people on the breadline.

Prime Minister Skerrit said then that his government wants to enter a private treaty with Colgate-Palmolive to take over the DCP property, located in the western community of Belfast, and keep the operations going.

This is not the first time the Dominica government had made a move to acquire the company and that the new proposals had been submitted in November 2015.

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AIA

Diaspora ecstatic about historic flight into new airport in St. Vincent and the Grenadines

 
 

By Nelson A. King

NEW YORK,  CMC – Howie Prince, is the Consul General of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines diplomatic office in the’ United States.

Celia Ross, who shares the building with him is the United States Director of Sales and Marketing at the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Tourism Authority.

Both are ecstatic that on Valentine Day, they will be among several passengers making an historic and romantic journey back to their homeland. Only this time, instead of having to ensure several stopovers, they will be flying directly to the newly built Argyle International Airport (AIA).

“First of all, it’s the fulfilment of many years of wishful things,” Prince told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC), adding “we can now boast of an international airport, where we can move people and goods and services to bolster our development.

AIA

Newly built Argyle International Airport (AIA ) that will be opened on February 14

“It’s an historic moment. Those of us landing on Valentine’s Day, it’s both very exciting, and, at the same time, a great prospect from the standpoint of having seamless travel. And to have seamless travel, it’s the fulfilment of many dreams.

“With the ground-breaking for hotel development, tourism should take off, agricultural development should take off, and we can see the return of the brain power. The development of the airport can help in our economic development.”

The international airport was built with a tag price of EC$700 (One EC dollar =US$0.37 cents) and is considered a major political achievement of the ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) and Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves in particular, who had come under intense criticism at home over the project, which is six years behind schedule.

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro is among those expected to attend and address the ceremonial opening of the facility on February 14.

Venezuela and Cuba were among those countries that helped Gonsalves fulfil his dream of building an international airport in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Ross, whose office space is shared with the Consulate General, said that, as the tourism representative for many years, the AIA is “definitely a most welcome addition to all the good things the destination has to offer.

“For many years, I have listened to travel agents and consumers talk about the beauty of the destination and, at the same time, lament the difficulty in getting there because of inadequate airlift. We expect AIA will boost our tourism industry, bringing many more visitors to our shores.

“In addition to boosting tourism, the international airport will improve the performance of other critical sectors, like agriculture and fisheries.

“To everyone joining us on the Caribbean Airlines charter on February 14, I welcome the opportunity to be with you on this very historic flight, when one lucky person will have the opportunity to win an exciting package for two at the Bequia Beach Hotel on Bequia,” she added.

The chartered flights on Caribbean Airlines and Dynamics Airline will leave New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, on February 14, for AIA, returning on February21.

Lennox Joslyn – chairman of the Fundraising Committee of the Brooklyn-based umbrella Vincentian group in the United States, Council of St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ Organizations, U.S.A., Inc. (COSAGO) – said he can’t wait to land at AIA.

“It’s an historic flight, and I can’t miss this for the world. I think it’s a significant milestone for St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and all Vincentians should embrace it, as we move forward.

“I want all Vincentians to move on this [welcome AIA],” added Joslyn, a member of the Brooklyn-based Striders Social and Cultural Organization, who was born at Diamond, a short distance from AIA.

“Forget about politics,” he insists.

The long-standing president of the Brooklyn-based St. Vincent and the Grenadines ’Ex-Teachers Association, Jackson Farrell, has expressed similar views.

Addressing the 34th Anniversary Luncheon of his group, in Brooklyn last month, he told the audience “the airport, whether we like it or not, is coming on stream,”

 “When the Comrade (Prime Minister Gonsalves) passes on, the airport will still be there. So, let us stop the ‘dotishness’ and opposition to the international airport].”

In his remarks, in the souvenir journal, Farrell, who taught elementary and secondary schools in St.Vincent and the Grenadines before migrating to New York, said the opening of the AIA “brings with it “blessings and challenges” and that his association has been “an integral part” of the Brooklyn-based Friends of Argyle International Airport that has been raising funds to assist construction of the airport.

“We have stated clearly that we recognize certain projects purely through the prism of national interest and not as any political partisan objective,” Farrell said.

Prince, who also addressed the ceremony, said he had been receiving a number of inquiries about the AIA’s official opening and charter flights on the opening day and that an overwhelming number of Vincentians in the Diaspora were looking forward to landing at home.

“One stop! SVG (St. Vincent and the Grenadines) we coming!” he exclaimed. “One stop! SVG we coming!”

Last year, the International Airport Development Company (IADC), a private limited liability company wholly owned by the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, said that work on the AIA was “winding down.”

“Since construction started in August 2008, Vincentians have waited in anticipation of the completion of this project,” said IADC on its website, adding that, after several missed dates, “completion is on the horizon.”

Chief executive officer of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Tourism Authority, Glen Beache, said in a statement that the AIA boasts a runway that is 9,000 ft. long and 250 ft. wide, and is “capable of accommodating aircrafts as large as Boeing 747-400’s.”

He said the 171, 000 sq. ft. terminal building is designed to accommodate 1.5 million passengers annually.

Beache, a former tourism minister, in the Gonsalves administration, said AIA is further enhanced with two jet bridges, restaurants, bars and other shops – “all designed to provide passengers and airport employees with a pleasant experience.”

 “Tourism has been the major economic earner for St. Vincent and the Grenadines for the last two decades, and it is expected that the new international airport will increase earnings in this sector, as well as other critical sectors, including agriculture, fisheries,” Beache said.

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Clarklee

Caribbean American Congresswoman introduces legislation to expand TPS for Haitians

By Nelson A. King

WASHINGTON, Feb 10, CMC –Caribbean American Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke has introduced legislation in the United States House of Representatives that would dramatically expand the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) programme to include all Haitian nationals who were in the United States prior to November 4, 2016.

Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, who represents the 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn, New York, told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) that the bill would grant 18 months of TPS to every eligible Haitian.

Clarklee

Yvette D. Clarke

She said TPS for Haitian nationals living in the United States was established after the January 12, 2010 devastating earthquake in Haiti “to start the process of recovery and to provide invaluable support in the form of remittances to family members there.

“The programme was created – and extended –based on need,” Clarke said., adding “those needs have increased since Haiti suffered extensive damage during Hurricane Matthew last year, when hundreds of people were killed and thousands of families were displaced.

“Unfortunately, despite the difficulties in Haiti, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) previously refused to grant TPS to Haitians who reached the United States after 2011, excluding thousands of people who would deservedly benefit. Therefore, Congress must act.”

If enacted, she said the Haiti Emergency Relief Act of 2017 would allow Haitian nationals to “maintain their remittances, which amount to about 25 per cent of the nation’s gross domestic product, and the people of Haiti to continue the process of recovery.

“I urge my colleagues in Congress to work together to aid the people of Haiti at this crucial time,” she said.

Last November, Clarke had urged the Obama administration to immediately halt the deportation of undocumented Haitians, stating that “the majority of the people DHS intends to remove have not been accused of any crime.”

Clarke, with 13 of her congressional colleagues, had urged DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson to suspend the removal of Haitian nationals who have not been convicted of a serious crime or otherwise present a threat to US national security.

Earlier, two major Haitian Diaspora groups in New York launched an online petition requesting that Obama also immediately halt the deportation of undocumented Haitians in the wake of the massive destruction caused by Hurricane Matthew.

The Haiti Renewal Alliance and the United Front of the Haitian Diaspora launched the petition, saying that they were hoping to build awareness to support it, which, on receiving 100,000 signatures, will require an official response from the White House.

Last October, Florida Democratic Congressman Alcee L. Hastings, who represents Ft. Lauderdale, sent a letter to Obama, urging him to set a date under Haiti’s TPS designation that will account for the effects of Hurricane Matthew on the French-speaking Caribbean country.

Last month, New York City Council has passed a resolution requesting that Johnson renews TPS for undocumented Haitian nationals.

The resolution, introduced by Brooklyn Council Member Dr. Mathieu Eugene, the first Haitian to be elected to the City Council, was “part of an ongoing effort to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Haiti while providing Haitians living abroad the opportunity to remain in a stable environment,”.

Eugene, who represents the largely Caribbean 40th Council District in Brooklyn, said that, over the past decade, Haiti has suffered from a number of natural disasters, including tropical storms, earthquakes, and, most recently, a hurricane.

“This legislation will help to lessen the burden on Haiti as it continues its rebuilding process,” said Eugene, a member of the City Council Immigration Committee.

“Any country in the world, even a rich country, would find it difficult to recover after several natural disasters,” he said

The DHS disclosed in December that over 200 Haitians had been deported in the previous weeks.

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Assot Michael

Government orders probe into processing of passports under CIP

by STAFF WRITER

 ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Feb 10, CMC – The Antigua and Barbuda government has ordered a re-examination of the applications of 19 passport holders on suspicion that there was “political interference” in the decision to have them processed, Minister of Economic Investment Asot Michael, has said.

Michael, speaking at the weekly Cabinet news conference, said someone had contacted Prime Minister Gaston Browne and himself while they were on a recent visit to the United Arab Emirates.

Michael said the review by the Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU) of the approved applications for 17 Iranians and two Yemenis has already started.

Assot Michael

Asot Michael (File Photo)

“There was a very reputable businessman who was given a contract by the former administration to develop the entire port and to have exclusivity of the management for the port. He brought to light certain evidence about these Iranian passports,” Michael said.

“We have no evidence that there were any nefarious activities or that any of these applicants were involved in any terrorist or money laundering activities, “ Michael said, noting that out of an “abundance of caution” the application files are to be vetted through the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Joint Regional Communication Centre (JRCC).

He told reporters “any evidence that the CIU will provide…will be turned over to the police for investigation,” adding that the probe was “not a case of this government going on any political witch-hunt”.

He said it was simply a reaction to “evidence” that there may have been “intervention on their behalf by high-ranking United Progressive Party officials”.

Michael said that the 19 persons applied for citizenship under the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) “prior to June of 2014” when the present Browne administration came into office.

Michael did not specify when the applications were approved.

Antigua and Barbuda is among several Caribbean countries that provides citizenship to foreign investors in return for them making significant investments in the socio-eceonomic development of the country.

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